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R: C! I can't believe you! This is the enemy!

December 2015 Stanford Women's Basketball Archives

Well, that was fun. It was billed as the battle of the brains, as the Stanford Women’s Basketball team took on Connell for the first time ever, and killed them 53-13…..in the first half. The final score was 93-38. The only real dram was would the Stanford B and C teams get us to 100.

Cornell learned it’s not enough to be smart, you also need to have fundamentals. I don’t know what their coach does in practice, but accurate shooting motion, boxing out and hitting free throws are not one of them, from where C and R stood. It was embarrassing for them. And we had to check, yes they are division 1. Wow. No wonder women’s basketball gets a bad rap.

Erica McCall (24) goes for a rebound .
(Photo by Bob Drebin/isiphotos.com)
The neat thing about this, as we mentioned we got to see a lot of the bench players. All 14 played and 12 Stanford players scored, although all 14 grabbed at least one rebound! Five of those players were in double figures. Alanna Smith, a freshman forward from Australia, and Erica McCall scored 12 points each to lead Stanford. Karlie Samuelson and Lili Thompson added 11 points each and Kaylee Johnson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Glad to see her point total up. She lost her starting spot and needs to step it up in both points and rebounds if she is to get it back.

C and R was intrigued by senior walk on Kiran Lakhian. She hit three 3-pointers on four attempts and finished with nine points. Where did she come from? A senior walk on? The mystery was solved via an SF Chron article:

Kiran Lakhian is a senior walk-on who until this year hadn’t played since her freshman season. There wasn’t room on the roster for her the previous two seasons, but this year there was, Head Coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Lakhian said she played a little rec ball in the interim, “but after playing at the college level, it wasn’t the same,’’ she said. So she played pickup ball against the varsity players in the fall, and VanDerveer invited her to stay.

Next game is this Tuesday at 2PM, against Baskersfiled, and before your scratch your head, guess who coaches the team? Greg McCall, Erica McCalls’ father. Erica calls him her single biggest influence when it comes to basketball. Stanford waited for Tuesday's game to honor McCall for helping the United States win the gold medal at last summer's World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. Her father will make the presentation during a brief pre-game ceremony. Now you have to play hooky from work and go.

December 16 Stanford Tops Tennessee

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. The Stanford Women’s Basketball Team came out of the gate aggressive and focused, and walloped Tennessee 69-55. (C and R are boycotting the “lady” team name). This was a VERY different team we saw that lost to #5 Texas and unranked Santa Clara.

What changed? Well, for one thing, Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer can learn new tricks. Stanford’s player to player (wow, aren’t’ we being politically correct tonight?) defense was NOT working in past games. They could not help out when a faster player was able to beat the first defender. So Tara changed them to a zone, and boy did they help each other out, sometimes double and triple teaming the orange jersey with the ball.

Stanford Tops Tennessee
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The fun started early when NC transfer Diamond Deshields shot an air ball. The Rose Bowl-bound Stanford football team, who was in attendance to be honored at half time, started chanting “Airball.” Except they kept remembering to chant it EVERY time she touched the ball on offense! The second time they chanted it, she scored on a drive and gestured to the whole team, “Bring it!” Yikes. You don’t gesture to a whole section of 250 pound big boys all dressed in black on the road. Who is going to back you up? The water girl? The football team kept up the chanting the whole half! Six man assist to them. Diamond was held to 12 points in the game (and also shot an airball in the second half!).

As C and R said, Stanford was more aggressive on the boards, outrebounding 42-31. Still was a little distressing Stanford only had two offensive rebounds in the first half. But the zone enabled them to box out better. Plus Tenn was not making any threes (sadly, neither could the Cardinal, both teams going 0-5 in the first half).

Defense was excellent. Stanford limited Tenn to the second-lowest point total in the series between the two teams. Stanford held Tenn to 25% FG shooting in the first quarter and nine points in the third quarter. Nine.

So we love the new aggressiveness. C and R know Tennessee plays in the rougher SEC, but they showed little body control when Stanford was in the air on offense. Even thought they were taller and more athletic, they never went straight up for the block, always reaching across and fouling. Strangely, Stanford did not take great advantage of that. When they got the ball and started a drive, it seemed as if they were afraid to take it inside on 6’6 Mercedes Russell.  However, when they did, they drew contact almost every time.  Tenn had 25 total fouls for the game. BTW, Stanford led the block party 4-2, so who’s afraid of 6’6 now?

So here is Standard enjoying this 21 point lead in the third quarter, shooting 60% or so, and feeling some new-found confidence when the second half started and Tenn pulled out the ol’ full court press. We. Cannot. Handle. Pressure. Period.

Several steals and lay ups and a rattled Cardinal found themselves only leading by 7 late in the second half. Twice. However, Stanford showed some poise. And Freshman Marta Sniezek (pronounced Sneeze-ix by the announcer, it sounded like) showed great poise and ball handling skills. Once they got it across mid-court a few times without turning it over, they settled down and then Tenn had to play the foul game. Eight FT attempts in the last minute. Card cruises to the win.

Shout outs:
Lili Thompson scored 19 points, including seven during a crucial stretch
McCall had 14 points and 10 rebounds (another double-double, we might add)
Kaylee Johnson added 10 points. Good for her after she lost her starting job
Marta almost joined the double digit club, scoring nine

Awesome! Keep it up!

December 13 Texas Turns back Stanford

What’s the difference between a top 5 team and a top 14 team? About nine points. Also rebounding. The Stanford Women’s Basketball team lost to #5 Texas 77-69. There was not much suspense in this as C and R said, Texas kept that 9 point lead and out rebounded them practically 2-1 in the first half.

Brittany McPhee
Brittany McPhee (AP Photo Michael Thomas)

How bad was it on the rebounding side? Stanford did not have an offensive rebound in the first half! In fact they go there first O-board with 3 minutes left in the third. And no, it wasn’t that Stanford was making all their shots, they were 3-11 from the 3-point line in the first before hitting 50% in the second (live by the three…). And also it wasn’t so much that Texas boxed out or out hustled them. It was mostly due to the Stanford game plan of having the post player set a high screen at the three point line. If the Stanford guard pulled the trigger quickly on the three after the screen, the post player was out of position for a rebound. Many times three Texas players would surround the ball with no black jersey in sight (love the black road jerseys, though!). The final tally of boards was 44-29, Texas.

A word about defense. Help. In that when Stanford plays man to man (or politically correct player to player) they have a very hard time helping if the opposing player gets past them. Which Texas did. Funny thing was Texas had the same problem, playing man to man and not helping if their player got past them. The only problem was not very many Stanford players did that. Our freshie guard Marta did the first few minutes she had the ball when she did enter the game, then got regulated back to the bench. Would have liked to see more of her.

Love how Lili Thompson looks for Erica McCall, and she made some nifty passes to her. However, she needs to make sure she is looking for others as well. Or one could argue that the other Stanford players are not getting open, a fair argument. A few times it looked like Lili was pressing, trying to do too much, driving even though the defense was there. However, again, it might be that other players were not working to get open.

Stanford did make a game of it going on a 9-0 run in the fourth and got within 4, thanks in large part to Mritanny McPhee’s back-to-back threes! However, Texas always seemed to have an answer, especially Empress Davenport who a career-high 23. And then Stanford had to play foul game and Texas, to their credit, made them. Twelve of 16 of them.

C and R noticed Kaylee Johnson did not start and in her place was Kailee Johnson (yes, it gives us headaches, too). However, the ESPN analysts (yes, they were on ESPN!) reported Stanford started four juniors and a sophomore, their first time without a senior in the starting lineup since 2002-03. Curious.

Shout out to those in Double figures:
-Erica had another double double (14 points and 13 boards) but fouled out in the closing minutes
-Lili Thompson led Stanford with 21 points and has now reached double figures in all eight games this season.
-Brittany McPhee had 12 points, a season high, and she was 4-4 from the 3-point line.

Next up is Tennessee.

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